Addressing the Skills Gap
The Verdugo WIB realized that it had the problem supplying employers with local job candidates; there was a shortage in prepared candidates with adequate skills to fill positions. Companies in health care, entertainment and manufacturing were recruiting and contracting positions overseas or to other states.
The WIB began outreaching to local school districts to build a greater connection between the needs of employers and the career pathway programs from K-12 and community college that could focus on specific business needs. The WIB called this project its Skills Gap Initiative. The WIB developed an 8-page newsletter to act as an education tool for the local schools. This document discussed the issue of the skills gap dilemma within the local community and was specifically focused on specific industries.
The WIB was invited to speak at an annual gathering of career education faculty at one school district to talk about future labor market trends and promising career pathways. A further outgrowth of this initiative was the launch of a skills gap conference that specifically focused on the needs in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). The WIB recruited Glendale College, four school districts and the Institute Electrical and Electronic Engineers as partners in its Skill Gap Initiative.
The 1-day conference attracted over 270 middle school and high school students, with speaker from the Mars Rover program at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and 16 volunteer speakers from local employers that spoke about their specific areas of expertise. All this was accomplished without any specific funding to support the WIBâ€™s efforts, but the WIB board of director felt that this issue was one of the major labor market issues in its region and decided to pursue the issue without any funding support.
Submitted by Verdugo WIB, Cerritos, CA
September 11, 2013